Listeriosis outbreak, hawkers’ nightmare

Following yesterday’s notice by National Consumer Commission and Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi to recall all ready-to-eat food products feared to be fertile carriers of the deadly listeria, street venders fear the closure of their businesses. This as panic over the killer disease grips the country following the revelation that products from an Enterprise Foods production facility in Polokwane, Limpopo, are the source of the listeriosis outbreak, which has resulted in 180 deaths.

Even the Department of Basic Education has stepped in to issue urgent alerts to schools and parents over the purchase of foods such as russians, polony, sausages, viennas and other cold meats, largely consumed by pupils as part of their packed lunches. Health experts have also warned against the consumption of bunny chows and the popular township kota snacks.

 A street vender Malefa Moletsane – who have been selling township kota snack in the Bloemfontein CBD for the past four years – fears closure of her business and worst time ahead for her family.“After I heard of the disease outbreak yesterday on the radio, I didn’t know whether I should wake up to go and work for my family today or not… this is scary to me,” said Moletsane still having three (ready to be sold) kotas on her table.

 “I am going to lose a lot of this and I do not have any alternative of making a means of survival for my family now. I only make around R300 a day going home”. Dimakatso Mocha added that as much as they want to obey government’s call to return their products and avoid more death, they too face a challenge of being out of business. “We are going starve here, I can’t sit here for the rest of the day selling only fat-cakes while people wants kotas too. A kota without Russian, Vienna, Polony is no kota… I can’t sell that,” said Mocha.

 On Sunday afternoon, retail companies including Shoprite and Pick n Pay across South Africa started removing all ready-to-eat processed meat products produced by Enterprise Foods and Rainbow Chicken from its perishable departments and delicatessens.

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